If you were lucky enough to snap up one of our Season of the Witch boxes, you may have spotted a page in the magazine dedicated to feminist Halloween reads to dip into throughout October. If the gorgeous book covers weren’t enough to draw you in, here is a bit more information about each of our 9 spooky suggestions:
My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite 240 pages
When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in “self-defence” and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…
Her Body & Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado 256 pages
In her provocative debut, Carmen Maria Machado demolishes the borders between magical realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the mysterious green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague spreads across the earth. A sales clerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery about a store’s dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted house guest. A dark, shimmering slice into womanhood, Her Body and Other Parties is wicked and exquisite.
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead 274 pages
In a remote Polish village, Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her sixties, recounts the events surrounding the disappearance of her two dogs. She is reclusive, preferring the company of animals to people; she’s unconventional, believing in the stars; and she is fond of the poetry of William Blake, from whose work the title of the book is taken. When members of a local hunting club are found murdered, Duszejko becomes involved. By no means a conventional crime story, this existential thriller by ‘one of Europe’s major humanist writers’ offers thought-provoking ideas on our perceptions of madness, injustice against marginalized people, animal rights, the hypocrisy of traditional religion, belief in predestination – and caused a genuine political uproar in Tokarczuk’s native Poland.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 320 pages
When glamorous socialite Noemi Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it’s clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but her claims that her husband is poisoning her and her visions of restless ghosts seem remarkable, even for her. Noemi immediately heads to High Place, a remote mansion in the Mexican countryside, determined to discover what is so affecting her cousin. Her only ally at High Place is the family’s youngest son who seems to want to help, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place and as Noemi digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
Toil & Trouble ed. by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe 416 pages
Toil & Trouble features fifteen stories of girls embracing their power, reclaiming their destinies and using their magic to create, to curse, to cure–and to kill. A young witch uses social media to connect with her astrology clients–and with a NASA-loving girl as cute as she is skeptical. A priestess of death investigates a ritualized murder. A bruja who cures lovesickness might need the remedy herself when she falls in love with an altar boy. A theater production is turned upside down by a visiting churel. In Reconstruction-era Texas, a water witch uses her magic to survive the soldiers who have invaded her desert oasis. And in the near future, a group of girls accused of witchcraft must find their collective power in order to destroy their captors.
Bunny by Mona Awad 272 pages
Samantha Heather Mackey is an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at Warren University. In fact, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort – a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other ‘Bunny’. But then the Bunnies issue her with an invitation and Samantha finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door, across the threshold, and down their rabbit hole. Blending sharp satire with fairytale horror, Bunny is a spellbinding trip of a novel from one of fiction’s most original new voices.
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh 256 pages
Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia and Sky, kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them – three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake. The Water Cure is a fever dream, a blazing vision of suffering, sisterhood and transformation. Hypnotic, dreamlike and compulsive, the blazing literary debut of summer 2018.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood 448 pages
Picking up ten years after the tantalisingly open-ended conclusion of its predecessor The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments provides a new window into Atwood’s dystopian world, as seen through the eyes of three women of Gilead: a girl brought up within its confines, another on the run beyond its walls, and a woman at the very heart of the regime’s dark designs with secrets of her own. Each has a unique perspective on the world of Gilead and each will be crucial in deciding its fate. Effortlessly combining a piercing critique of gender, oppression and authoritarianism with the whip-smart pace of the purest literary thriller, The Testaments is devastating in its immediacy whilst remaining a timeless piece of faultless storytelling.
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter 176 pages
From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires and werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.
Written by Rachel Matthews